When Bobby Roesing and Kevin Innis were growing up in Secaucus, they were both contemporaries in the Secaucus Recreation wrestling program.
“We’ve been wrestling with each other since we were about 5 years old,” said Innis, currently a 215-pound wrestler for St. Peter’s Prep. “We’ve been good friends for a while. We were drill partners all through middle school, but like in fifth or sixth grade, I got bigger than him. I think the last time we were the same weight was first grade.”
Roesing was hesitant to say who was a better wrestler as they grew up.
“I would have to say he was,” Roesing said. “We never really wrestled each other in a tournament. He was always a little heavier. But we grew up together and we were always friends.”
Roesing is the talented 160-pound wrestler for Secaucus High School.
Incredibly, both Roesing and Innis are two of the best wrestlers in the entire state. Both won their second straight NJSIAA Region 4 championship last weekend at West Orange High School. Both have extremely gaudy seasonal records – Roesing is perfect at 33-0 and Innis is 36-2.
The two now head to the NJSIAA state championships in Atlantic City this weekend as favorites to win a medal.
It’s beyond remarkable that the pair is from the same youth wrestling program in the same small Hudson County town.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Roesing, Secaucus’ all-time leader in wrestling victories with 128, eclipsing the mark that was once set by his older brother, Eddie. “I always root for Kevin to do well. We practiced together the other day and we were talking about eighth grade and our Secaucus Recreation days.”
Roesing’s father, Ed, Sr., was one of the first standout wrestlers out of Secaucus High School and he has been an influential part of the Secaucus Recreation youth wrestling program.
Innis remembers his days with the Secaucus Rec program and is also happy for his friend’s success.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Innis said. “We have a big test this weekend. Hopefully, we’ll both be wrestling for a medal.”
Innis was asked if he was thinking about the possible match-ups in the state tournament.
“Honestly, I try not to look at the brackets,” Innis said. “I don’t want to know who I’m wrestling and I don’t like to hear about who I’m wrestling. I just like to take one at a time.”
Both Innis and Roesing made short appearances in the state tourney last year, losing in the quarterfinals and then the wrestleback consolations.
“Last year, I had the mentality that I was the underdog,” Innis said. “I just took in everything that I could. But this year, I worked very hard. I didn’t want to become complacent. I practiced every moment that I could. I know what the deal is now at the states. I’m used to the surroundings. I won’t go there in awe. I will keep my mind in my wrestling and my matches.”
“I definitely want to make up for things,” said Roesing, who has competed at the state tournament in each of the last two seasons. I’ve been there before, so I think that will take the pressure off.”
Roesing doesn’t want to even think about his undefeated status.
“It really doesn’t bother me at all,” Roesing said. “I just go out and wrestle each match. This has always been my goal since I was a little kid.”
Last week, Roesing became the first Secaucus wrestler to ever win two Region 4 titles and in the process, he was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the region. He will look to become only the second Secaucus wrestler ever to win a medal at the state tournament. Former Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Year Alex Rodriguez finished second at heavyweight in 1993.
“I’m hoping to become the second one from my school to get a medal down there,” Roesing said. “It’s just another of my goals.”
Incredibly, both Roesing and Innis are also standout football players as well. Roesing was a two-time All-Area honoree in football as a do-everything back/wide receiver and defensive back. Innis was a standout at tight end and linebacker for the Marauders and will serve as the team’s captain in the fall.
Their lives are also extraordinarily parallel, considering that both come from fine athletic families. Roesing is following in the footsteps of older brother Eddie and older sister Cory, a former Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year recipient. Innis’ two older brothers, Brian and Chris, were two-sport standouts at St. Mary’s of Rutherford and his sister, Andrea, is currently a three-sport star at Secaucus.
Another local Region 4 champion heading for Atlantic City is North Bergen sophomore Julian Quintero, who was the surprise winner at 130 pounds. Quintero is also undefeated at 17-0.
St. Peter’s Prep will send five wrestlers to the states. Other than Innis, 119-pound Alex Richardson, 152-pound Tony Pafumi, 171-pounder James Fox and 189-pounder qualified by placing either second or third at the Region 4 tourney. It marks the highest total of wrestlers that the Prep has sent to Atlantic City in the program’s history.
But all eyes will be on the two long-time friends from Secaucus.
“I’m happy for both of us,” Innis said. “I’m extremely happy for Bobby. He deserves everything he gets. I think if we both get a medal, that would be great. We’re going to do what we can do.”
“Let’s hope so,” Roesing said. “If we both do well, that would be great for Secaucus.”
And for Hudson County wrestling. – Jim Hague